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article imageTexas Gov. Perry will not comply with law to curb prison rape

By Yukio Strachan     Apr 4, 2014 in Politics
Austin - When a federal law designed to reduce prison rape goes into effect next month, Texas won't be participating, said Governor Rick Perry in a recent letter to the U.S. attorney general.
In a March 28 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Perry accused the Obama administration of enacting "ill-conceived standards" for the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 — a statute signed into law when his predecessor, George W. Bush, was president — that Texas cannot afford to meet.
"The rules appear to have been created in a vacuum with little regard for input from those who daily operate state prisons and local jails," Perry writes. " They are inconsistent with other federal laws, such as labor laws and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP Act), mandate staff ratios that impose substantial financial burden on communities and impose compliance dates impossible to meet."
But Lance Lowry, president of a local union representing corrections officers in Huntsville, told the Associated Press that county jails and local lockups can take measures to comply with the federal rules.
Most issues can be resolved easily if staffing levels systemwide are corrected, Lowry told the AP.
"The lack of staff is something the politicians need to address," Lowry said, according to the AP. "They have run these facilities short of staff for years."
Still, Perry said with 297 state prisons and local jails in the state, he refused to subject them to comply to PREA regulations come the May 15 certification deadline.
"Absent standards that acknowledge the operational realities in our prisons and jails, I will not sign your form and I will encourage my fellow governors to follow suit," Perry wrote.
But not complying may cost the Lone Star State. According to the AP, states that do not comply could lose federal grant dollars. Three grants that totaled $23.9 million last year could face partial cuts, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.
One of the highest levels of inmate-on-inmate sexual assault
The Texas Tribune reported that from 2009 to 2011, the number of prison sexual victimization allegations rose by more than 10 percent nationwide, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Texas is among states with the highest levels of inmate-on-inmate sexual assault allegations, including four out of the top 21 facilities between 2011 and 2012, according to the Tribune.
But prison officials told mySanAntonio.com on Monday that after a Safe Prisons program implemented in 2001 forced operational changes, reported sexual assaults have declined by about 10 percent in the past two years.
“The agency has a zero tolerance policy against sexual violence within the system,” said Jason Clark, a prison system spokesman, according to the Texas newspaper.
More about Rick perry, Prison Rapes, Prison Rape Elimination Act, Department of justice
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